FAU Baseball: NCAA approves use of headset for catchers ahead of 2022 season

For players at FAU, limiting the opposing players’ ability to steal signs from the pitching coach is the most significant change that earpieces would provide.


Nicholas Windfelder

Photo of sophomore catcher Caleb Pendleton wearing an earpiece while behind the plate.

Kevin Garcia, Staff Writer

In August 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) formally announced the approval of the use of one-way headsets for the 2022 baseball season as a way for catchers to communicate with their coaches to prevent sign stealing. 

Not only will the headset help stop sign stealing by opposing players, but the five seconds or so a catcher would spend watching signs from his coach will be shaved, leading to a potential reduction of 20 minutes per game. 

Vanderbilt University is credited with the introduction of the earpiece when their head coach Tim Corbin brought the idea to the NCAA. Prior to the 2017 season, the NCAA approved the earpiece for testing only in the Southeastern Conference for conference and tournament games. 

“[Vanderbilt] has gained that reputation where they are open-minded, they have intelligent coaching staff,” assistant head coach Greg Mamula said. “I think when people have a new product, that’s the first place [they’re] going to go. They have a pitching lab there, they seem to be at the forefront of technology in college baseball.” 

Sign stealing has been a hot topic amongst the baseball community in recent years amid the Houston Astros cheating scandal that led to their victory in the 2017 World Series. However, the introduction of the earpiece does not prevent players who are on base from stealing a pitcher’s sign or players guessing the signs that the catcher is giving to the pitcher. 

For players at FAU, limiting the opposing players’ ability to steal signs from the pitching coach is the most important thing. 

“I think [the earpiece] is extremely effective since it limits the other team’s ability to pick our signs from our pitching coach, which gives us peace of mind,” senior catcher Nicholas Toney said. 

Essentially, the approval of headsets in the NCAA is a test run, as Major League Baseball (MLB) will have its eyes peeled throughout the process. 

“For teams who have coaches that want to call the game, it will definitely help with both pace of play and protection from signs getting stolen,” Toney said.

FAU players and coaches seemed excited about the new rule.

“It’s pretty cost-efficient and I think it’s something that our coaches and student-athletes feel is really beneficial,” Vice President and Director of Athletics for FAU Brian White said. “I have not heard any pushback and everything I’ve heard about it has been very positive.” 

The Owls are enjoying early success to the 2022 season thus far, posting a 14-8 record to start the season. 

Kevin Garcia is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email him @[email protected], or tweet him @kevingar658.